Real Betis welcome European giants Manchester United to Seville on Thursday night, as the two go up against one other again in the second leg of the Europa League Round of 16.
Real Betis look set to finish inside the top 6 of La Liga for a third season running as they sit in a comfortable position in 5th place with 13 games left to play. Under Manuel Pellegrini, the Los Verdiblancos have been on an upward trajectory. They finished 5th last season and won their first trophy in 17 years as they defeated Valenica in the Copa Del Rey final to bring home some silverware. They made it through till the last 16 last season of the Europa League, their first time since 2014, but have never made it past that stage. Betis have failed to progress through to the quarter-finals on two previous occasions, and after the first leg at Old Trafford, it seems like they will need a miracle to avoid making it three times. The Los Verderones were last in action against Villarreal away from home as they drew 1-1 on Sunday. The draw meant that Betis are now six games unbeaten in the league, having last lost to league leaders Barcelona at the start of February. They have won four games since and have drawn twice, including a hard earned point against Real Madrid.
The Los Verdiblancos fought hard against Man United at Old Trafford in the first half, going into the break with the score level at 1-1. However, they were blown away by the quality of United who were by far the better side in the second half. The hosts came out firing on all cylinders and Betis could not quite keep up with them after. Pellegrini had his keeper Claudio Bravo to thank, as the former Man City man kept out the Red Devils time and again with some brilliant saves. A combination of some very poor finishing from the hosts and tidy keeping from Bravo meant the score was only 4-1 to United, as the scoreline threatened to get out of hands with the number of chances created by United.
Betis and Pellegrini will be hoping for a much better defensive showing this time around. Ball retention and creativity in the final third has to improve for the Los Verderones if they want to stand a chance of making a comeback against the Red Devils.
Manchester United have one foot in the quarter-finals after an emphatic 4-1 win over Betis in the first leg. A dominant and blistering second half against the visitors in the first leg sees United carry a mighty lead going into the second leg. The Red Devils are the overwhelming favourites to go through, and will be confident heading into Thursday night’s clash.
They were in action over the weekend, as they hit another bump in their conquest of cementing a place in the top 4 in the league as they drew 0-0 against Southampton at home. It was a game full of controversial moments as the Old Trafford faithful cried foul against the referee who was guilty of some contentious decisions on Sunday. The Red Devils lost midfield juggernaut Casemiro to a straight red card in the first half, after he was adjudged to have made a dangerous tackle, despite replays showing he got the ball first. However after VAR intervention the Brazilian was sent off and is set to miss the next four domestic games for United. It was just the start of a few more debatable calls in the 90 minutes, as the home team dug deep and soldiered on for the majority of the game with 10 men. They came close to winning but even after 27 shots combined from both sides the scoreline remained unchanged and both teams shared the points on a lively and entertaining afternoon at Old Trafford.
Man United now turn their attention to cup competitions as their trip to Seville is followed by an FA Cup encounter against Fulham at home. The Red Devils are chasing more silverware after their success in the Carabao Cup, and they will be eager to end the season with more than one trophy.
WHEN & WHERE?
Date: Thursday, 16th March 2023.
Time: 6.45 pm local time.
Venue: Estadio Benito Villamarin, Seville.
Real Betis defender Luiz Felipe is set to be on the sidelines till after the international break with a hamstring injury suffered in the first leg at Old Trafford. Midfielder Nabil Fakir is a long-term absentee along with Juan Cruz, with the former not set to play until next season. William Carvalho missed the game over the weekend with a suspension but will return to the squad for Thursday.
Manchester United will be without young winger Alejandro Garnacho who suffered an injury in their draw against Southampton. The Argentinian faces a spell on the sidelines although it is not clear how long he is set to remain on the treatment table. On-loan midfielder Marcel Sabitzer is also set to miss out with an unspecified injury. Casemiro’s red card does not apply to European games so he will be expected to start in his usual midfield role. Donny van de Beek and Christian Eriksen are long term absentees, although the latter is edging ever closer to a return to action. Facundo Pellistri could be set to start his first game for the Red Devils after impressing in his substitute cameos in the past weeks.
The Englishman was on the scoresheet yet again in the first leg, after he rifled in his 25th goal of the season in some style. Rashford found the ball inside the box after it came off a Betis defender, after which Rashford took a touch and smashed the ball past a helpless Claudio Bravo. The power on the shot made it simply unsavable, and it handed United the lead just six minutes into the tie. He did not have many chances against Southampton over the weekend and will be hoping for a better time on Thursday night. He has already scored against Spanish opposition away from home this season, scoring a wonderful goal against Barcelona in the last round and with the form he is in, he is definitely one to lookout for.
Real Betis XI vs Manchester United: Claudio Bravo; Yousouf Sabaly, German Pezzella, Victor Ruiz, Juan Miranda; William Carvalho, Guido Rodriguez; Sergio Canales, Ayoze Perez, Juanmi; Borja Iglesias.
Manchester United XI vs Real Betis: David de Gea; Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez, Tyrell Malacia; Casemiro, Fred; Facundo Pellistri, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford; Wout Weghorst.